What is Prototyping?
Prototyping is a proven and inexpensive way of demonstrating and evaluating a concept with real users before it’s released to the user base.
We are really fortunate as designers to have a wealth of prototyping tools at our disposal and at a wide range of fidelities. At one end of the spectrum, we have lo-fi paper prototypes, while at the other end of the spectrum we have hi-fi digital prototypes.
Possible fidelities with prototyping
Surveys and Questionnaires
Using sketches or printed out wireframes for usability testing is important. This paper protoype is great for early stages of a project, this method allows you to quickly validate a design direction.
Clickable Prototype Testing
It involves using a clickable version of wireframes or mockups to simulate flows through a website or application. Digital prototypes allow us to build realistic, clickable proof of concepts that allow users and stakeholders to get a feel for what we’re building. These prototypes enable me to test our assumptions and move progressively towards finished solutions. This type of testing can be used within the design process to test out design ideas in a more refined fidelity, but still in a stage where development changes can be made immediately with low cost.
There are numerous other benefits of prototyping, which includes:
- Saving time and money
- Getting everyone involved and bought into the design process
- Acting as a bridge between designers and developers
- Creating excitement within the organization
- Bring the user interface design to life
I have lots of experience designing and implementing prototypes of a wide variety of fidelities but it all depend on the type of project, the stage of the project, the concept being validated, and a host of other factors.
I have run quick concept validation sessions using printed out, paper wireframes and simple clickable prototypes and further refined prototypes to test concepts. I have also run more formal usability testing with both clickable wireframes, clickable mockups, and also fully developed prototypes using hand-coded HTML/CSS/JS where prototyping tools weren’t able to provide the type of experience I wanted to evaluate. Using hand coded HTM/CSS/JS is also good because, its saves a lot of time and make the design look more elegant and attractive. Prototyping tools has really simplified the works of designers since it gives all the necessary techniques to designers.
Prototypes has really helped in the designing industry because, sometimes when a clients ask for design that require lots of some advance research and experience, prototyping tools help me to evaluate them and find solutions to them.